Biden Threatens ‘Real Changes’ in Support of Israel’s War With Hamas, Even as Iran Readies Its Own Attack

The IDF is on high alert as Iranian officials vow to avenge the Monday killing at Damascus of one of Tehran’s terrorist leaders, perhaps as early as tomorrow, the last Friday of Ramadan.

AP/Leo Correa
An Israeli tank near the Israeli-Gaza border as seen from southern Israel, April 4, 2024. AP/Leo Correa

As Israelis brace for attacks by the Iranians or their proxies, they are also under growing international pressure, as President Biden demands “real changes” in the Israel Defense Force’s war against Hamas and signals a major shift in America’s support of the Jewish state. 

The IDF is on high alert as Iranian officials vow to avenge the Monday killing at Damascus of one of Tehran’s terrorist leaders. Israelis are anticipating attacks, perhaps as early as tomorrow, the last Friday of Ramadan. The Islamic Republic has long designated the date as “Jerusalem day,” hoping to raise regional ire over Israeli control of the holy mosques at that city. 

At the same time, Mr. Biden said he was “irate” over the drone deaths of seven volunteers of the World Central Kitchen at Gaza. To express his anger, he called Prime Minister Netanyahu Thursday, demanding changes in Israel’s conduct, including an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. 

“If there are no real changes on the Israeli side, there will be real changes on ours,” the national security council spokesman, John Kirby, told reporters after the 30-minute call. He said the White House would assess if Israel indeed modifies its war conduct and decide accordingly on its next moves.   

Mr. Biden called to “express frustration” over the killing of the aid volunteers, Mr. Kirby said. The WCK founder, Jose Andres, who is the president’s personal friend, accused Israel of “systematically” and intentionally targeting three of the organization’s cars as they were coordinating distribution of food in Gaza.

The IDF’s spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said on Thursday that an investigation into the incident has been completed. Led by a retired general, Yoav Har-Even, the probe’s results will be shared at first with foreign ambassadors and the WCK, and shortly after that will be made public. 

Yet, Israel’s admission of an error is yet to reduce worldwide anger over the incident. “Stop it, stop it now,” the first lady, Jill Biden, reportedly beseeched her husband in reference to the Gaza war.

“If Benjamin Netanyahu were to order the IDF into Rafah at scale,” a close confidante of Mr. Biden, Senator Coons, told CNN Thursday, “I would vote to condition aid to Israel.” He added he had never considered such a condition before. 

While the White House and allies focus on humanitarian aid and Israeli plans to invade Rafah, Tehran officials — from Supreme Leader Khamenei on down — are threatening a major attack on the Jewish state.

As America’s election year gets in gear, Mr. Biden may want the war over, but the Islamic Republic, and its Israel-surrounding “ring of fire,” as the ever-growing group of Iranian proxy armies are known, may have other plans. 

Tehran officials vow to avenge the Monday killing of General Mohammed Reza Zahedi — the highest Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ terrorist eliminated since the American drone strike on its top commander, Qassem Soleimani.

A conservative Tehran publication, the Iranian Coalition Council of Islamic Revolution Forces, hails Zahedi’s “strategic role in forming and strengthening the resistance front as well as in planning and executing the Al-Aqsa Storm.” That article contradicted past Iranian contentions that it had no role in that October 7 assault. 

“I’m not sure that the worst is behind us, and the days ahead are bound to be complex,” the commander of Aman, the intelligence directorate of the Israel Defense Force, Aharon Haliva, said Thursday. After his statement in a closed forum was made public, Israelis mobbed stores, seeking to stock up on anything from food to generators, and withdrawing cash from ATMs. 

Taking seriously the Iranian threats, the IDF recalibrated its air defenses Thursday morning, for a time disrupting GPS services. Drivers relying on apps like Waze created traffic jams at Tel Aviv and other urban centers. Attempting to prevent panic, the IDF spokesman, Admiral Hagari, said that there is no reason to change life routines, and that if danger to the public arises, he would update. 

Islamic Republic officials are highlighting what they call Israeli “hysteria” in anticipation of an Iranian retaliation, the growing Israeli isolation on the world’s stage, and what they claim is the Israeli failure in achieving its goals in Gaza, according to a Tel Aviv University Iran watcher, Raz Zimmt. 

“For years, Iran has been working against us, and therefore Israel has been working against Iran,” Mr. Netanyahu said after his call with Mr. Biden. “We will know how to defend ourselves and we will act according to the simple principle that whoever hurts us or plans to hurt us, we will hurt him.”

As Mr. Biden, British leaders, and European counterparts are leaning on Israel to end its war in Gaza, the Islamic Republic and other enemies sense an opportunity for what they hope would be a death blow attack against the Jewish state.

The New York Sun

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